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VICE Loves Magnum: Thomas Dworzak Takes Photos of Sad Marines and Taliban Poseurs

Magnum is probably the most famous photo agency in the world. Even if you haven’t heard of it, chances are you’re familiar with its images, be they Robert Capa’s coverage of the Spanish Civil War or Martin Parr’s very British holiday-scapes. Unlike most agencies, Magnum’s members are selected by the other photographers on the agency, so becoming a member is a pretty grueling process. As part of an ongoing partnership with Magnum, we will be profiling some of their photographers over the coming weeks.

Thomas Dworzak joined Magnum in 2000. His books often deal with war. His first, Taliban, was a found photo project which freaked out a lot of Americans who didn’t want to see what the Taliban looked like when they were fooling about. M*A*S*H IRAQ examined the daily lives of US Medevac teams in Iraq, and his latest book,Kavkuz, explored the impact years of brutal war had on the Caucasus region. Oddly enough, in spite of shooting in some of the most hellish conditions imaginable, he thinks Paris is the hardest place to work in.

VICE: You are often described as a “war photographer.” How do you feel about that?
Thomas Dworzak:
 It’s a label. What are you going to do about it? I’m not going to say I am not one, because I do go, and I used to go very often, to these conflict areas. But there are definitely people out there who are more into combat than me. There is a scale of how much involvement in war one has. And I’m not all the way up there.

How did working in Chechnya during the war there differ from your time in Iraq?
I think in Chechnya, I was more “on the ground.” I was hitchhiking around, trekking alone. You would talk to the fighters, you would spend time with them, and then if there was an attack you would arrive with them. It was all done in a very disorganized, one to one, personal way. I think Chechnya was very extreme as a war, compared to anything that I have seen since.

Extreme in what way?
Just the sheer amount of stuff I saw flying around. It was an atrocious war. Bosnia was very brutal of course, but there was not so much physical destruction, it was more killing and revenge on a very personal and human level, between neighbors or whatever. Chechnya was brutal in every way. The destruction of Grozny reached a level I had not seen until then, and haven’t seen since. I guess you might come across something like it now in Aleppo, for example. There was no accreditation when I was working there, no paperwork. I learned Russian so I could talk to the fighters. They were welcoming, so I spent time with them. Whereas in Iraq and Afghanistan I was embedded. You get your piece of paper and the military has to take care of you.

In what way did that affect your work? What’s your view on the embed format, do you think it worked well?
I think there is a strange kind of freedom in the structure of an embed. A lot of people have been bitching about it, going on about the embed being “the end of press freedom” and all that, but I don’t really think that’s true. I don’t know anything about Iraq really; I haven’t seen Iraq outside of the American point of view for so long now. But if I choose to cover the American angle, then an embed is not a bad way to do it. Because it is so institutionalized, you can actually move around and do a lot. You don’t have to beg, you don’t have to worry about anything. It’s a bit duller in that sense. You just have to follow the guys in front of you. And there are not that many decisions to be made. I find embeds pretty relaxing in that way.

Was your M•A•S•H• IRAQ project concluded over one single embed?
It was almost all embed work. I don’t want to over-emphasize the fact that some photos—just a few—weren’t taken in embeds as it’s meant to be an embed book. I don’t know, maybe it was two years or three years, something like that. The core of the work was done over a year, I did maybe five or six embeds with the medical units over that time.

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A year after they both captured the global imagination, the revolutions in Egypt and Libya are now poised on a knife-edge. The sense of hope that followed the departures of Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak and Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi — the former nudged out of power by the army top brass; the latter eventually killed by rebel militia after a bloody eight-month civil war — has withered. In Egypt, the shadow of the country’s domineering military looms large despite the victory in presidential elections of a candidate from the once-banned Muslim Brotherhood. (Many liberals, meanwhile, question the Islamists’ commitment to a free and open democracy.) In Libya, the violent overthrow of the four-decade old Gaddafi dictatorship has left behind a fledgling state that is riven by tribal militias, even as the nation held elections last weekend.

Witnessing the upheaval firsthand, photojournalist Sarah Elliott set about documenting those who have had most to gain — and to lose — from the transformations of the Arab Spring: women. The revolutions in both countries, which were aimed at toppling an encrusted, deep-seated authoritarianism, presented women “with opportunities they had never before imagined,” says Elliott. Women massed on the frontlines of protests in Cairo’s Tahrir Square; in Libya, some were on the frontlines as well — with machine guns.

Yet when Elliott arrived in Libya last August, not long before the fall of the capital Tripoli, she entered a story that seemed — at least as it was being conveyed then to the outside world — bereft of women. While myriad images beamed out of North Africa depicted crowds of men chanting in the streets or strutting around abandoned tanks, “women were totally unseen, they were absent,” says Elliott. In Tripoli, she went to hospitals and prisons, civil society meetings and ransacked government buildings, interviewing women from all walks of life and political stripes. Her project includes both a pro-Gaddafi sniper, whom Elliott first encounters on a hospital bed and then at a makeshift prison, as well as a range of women affiliated with the rebellion—including one lady who would smuggle bullets in her handbag and another, a fighter on the front, who named her child after the popular “Doshka” machine gun.

Elliott’s photographs blend portraiture and reportage; the testimony of those she documents is important. “I wasn’t just snapping pics,” says Elliott. “I sat down with them for hours and kept in contact. I want to fully tell their story.” She hopes to expand the project from Libya and Egypt to cover the whole breadth of the Arab Spring — most immediately Tunisia, where last year’s seismic upheavals first began and where a fragile consensus exists between the Islamist and secularist forces that came to power in the revolution’s wake.

(Related: Egypt’s Muslim Sisterhood: What roles do Islamist women play?)

For women, much is at stake. The promise of sweeping political change has run up against the realities of conservative, deeply patriarchal societies. In both post-revolution Egypt and Libya, Islamist pressure led to the axing of minimum quotas for women in the countries’ new elected legislatures. Fears grow over a roll-back of the moderate gains made by women’s rights in the era of the dictatorships, which, while repressive, tended to be secular. In Egypt, incidences of sexual harassment and intimidation — which had a brief reprieve during the giddy days of unity at Tahrir Square — have worsened; many feel increasingly marginalized by the post-revolution status quo. “For women, there’s a sense that their revolution never really ended,” says Elliott. She hopes to follow them as their struggle continues.

Sarah Elliott is a Nairobi-based photographer. See more of her work here.

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It’s been a restless month for politics in Egypt, where longtime president Hosni Mubarak was ousted from office during the Arab Spring last February. On June 14, just days before the country’s first democratic presidential elections, the Supreme Constitutional Court dissolved Egypt’s Islamist-majority parliament. The elections themselves were further marred by confusion when election officials delayed the announcement of a winner, saying they needed more time to investigate charges of electoral abuse.

Since the vote last weekend, supporters of Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Morsy have been gathering daily in Tahrir Square. On Sunday, an official announcement declared Morsy the winner and the tension that had been brewing in the crowds all week quickly transformed into euphoria.

Photographer Daniel Berehulak documented the activity in Cairo in both the lead-up to the announcement and the ensuing celebrations. He described the frustration he observed while the public anxiously awaited an outcome, saying, “There was anger in the street, people were arguing on corners.”

As the results were announced on Sunday crowds packed into Tahrir, spilling out onto surrounding bridges. “People were jammed,” said Berehulak. “They were lining up to get into Tahrir to get a piece of it, to get a taste of freedom and a resolution to the revolution.”

Elated Morsy supporters set off fireworks and flares and the roar of trumpets and chants filled the air. Overwhelmed by both emotion and sweltering heat, several members of the crowd fainted and had to be carried to nearby ambulances.

Taking photographs was a challenge for Berehulak who struggled to find enough space to hold his camera up in the dense and excited crowd. “They were just embracing us,” he says. “It was so overwhelming, but it was so beautiful.”

Daniel Berehulak is a photographer based in New Delhi. See more of his work here.

Read more about Mohamed Morsy’s election on TIME.com.

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Egypt recently carried out its first democratic presidential election in the country’s history. But five days after the vote, the question of who won remains a matter of contention. The contest pitted a former military man who had served in the regime of ousted president Hosni Mubarak against a leader of the regime’s longtime foes, the Muslim Brotherhood.

Most observers believe the most votes went to Mohamed Morsy, the candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP). The party claims a 1.2 million vote lead over Ahmed Shafik, the former military man and Mubarak prime minister. Shafik, however, says he has 500,000 more votes than Morsy. And with the official results still pending, the tension is rising as Egyptians wait to find out which candidate—if any—is telling the truth.

The presence of Egypt’s decidedly undemocratic military in its fledgling democratic process has only added to the atmosphere of uncertainty. Shortly after the polls closed on Sunday night, the junta, which has ruled Egypt since Mubarak stepped down, issued a decree that served to dramatically limit the powers of the incoming president. Just a few days before, the country’s constitutional court had moved to dissolve Egypt’s first democratically elected parliament—which had been dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood. And analysts say this latest decree seems tailor made to limit the impact of a Brotherhood win at the polls.

The Islamists have reacted to the pressure with a show of popular force; taking to Cairo’s Tahrir Square every night since, as the country awaits the electoral outcome. So far, the demonstrations have been largely symbolic. But they could turn violent if Shafik is declared the winner—an outcome that the Islamists have already said would be the product of electoral fraud.

Abigail Hauslohner is TIME’s Cairo correspondent.

Yuri Kozyrev is a contract photographer for TIME and was named the 2011 Photographer of the Year in the Pictures of the Year International competition.

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Last month TIME contract photographer Yuri Kozyrev and I went to Rabat and Casablanca to report on a story about the rise of Political Islam in the countries of the Arab Spring. As with Tunisia and Egypt, free elections in Morocco have brought to power an Islamist party, the Justice and Development Party (PJD). But these, as we discovered, are not your father’s Islamists. They defy the Western stereotype of bushy-bearded, wild-eyed religious fanatics: Morocco’s Islamists are not seeking to take their country back to some ancient golden age, they are trying to figure how to bring it to the 21st century without losing its religious moorings. In this, they are similar to Islamists now heading governments in Tunis and Cairo. The pursuit and attainment of political power have forced these parties to abandon radical ideas and distance themselves from their lunatic fringes. Instead, they are moving to the political center.

Morocco has drawn tourists for centuries, and to most visitors cities like Rabat and Casablanca are a pleasant combination of the modern and the ancient. In this set of images, Yuri captures both aspects of the country.

Read more: The Converted: Has Power Tamed Islamists in the Arab Spring States?

Yuri Kozyrev is a contract photographer for TIME and was just named the 2011 Photographer of the Year in the Pictures of the Year International competition.

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Gone are the accolades of heroism and courage that just one year ago greeted Egypt’s so-called “Facebook youth” when they led the popular uprising against the authoritarian regime of President Hosni Mubarak. Of that emotional and miraculous 18-day revolt, many proud Egyptians say the youth succeeded where decades of repressed and compromised opposition parties had not.

But 12 months later, Tahrir Square is a ravaged and frustrated version of its former self. Egypt’s youth movement is struggling to keep the revolution going, challenging the ruling military council the only way they know how—through protest. But with the country’s economy and stability sliding further into turmoil, the youth heroes of yesterday are failing to win the hearts and minds of the Egyptian majority today. Instead, many say they’re desperate to move on from the square.

Abigail Hauslohner is TIME’s Cairo correspondent. Find her on Twitter @ahauslohner.

Dominic Nahr is a contract photographer for TIME, represented by Magnum Photos. You can see more of his work from the Egyptian revolution here

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by Kainaz Amaria

There have been countless accounts of violence recorded during the uprisings in Egypt, but the image that perhaps has captured the most attention is the most recent. The image has been widely referred to as the "girl in the blue bra."

A veiled young woman is dragged and beaten by Egyptian military during a protest in Cairo's Tahrir Square. Her face is covered. Her torso is bare, except for her bright-blue bra; she's a millisecond away from being kicked by a solider.

The image quickly became a visual symbol of abuse of power by the Egyptian military. It also became the rallying cry for several thousand Egyptian women who marched in the country's capital on Tuesday demanding the end of military rule.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a recent speech at Georgetown University that the image showed the "systematic degradation of Egyptian women [which] dishonors the revolution, disgraces the state and its uniform, and is not worthy of a great people."

In response to Clinton's condemnation, Egypt's state Middle East News Agency quoted Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr as saying Egypt would not accept any interference in its internal affairs on the way security forces dealt with female protesters. And today there are reports that Kamal al-Ganzouri, Egypt's military-appointed prime minister, has called for a national dialogue to resolve the country's crisis and for a two-month calm to restore safety.

While images and stories of women's-rights abuses are not hard to find, Kenny Irby, senior faculty for visual journalism at the Poynter Institute, says the image has become an icon for the sexist and brutal use of military power because "the frame captures the horror of excessive abuse which has elevated its status."

But beyond the brutality, Irby says, "it has an aesthetic punctuation that is the blue bra."

"It has the clear suppression of female rights but also has the visual stamp which has historically been part of women's liberation protests [in America]."

Canada's National Post reported Egyptian blogger Fatenn Mostafa tweeting, "The blue bra is unforgettable and we all become 'the blue bra' girl one way or another."

Irby points out another important factor — the fact that the image is not a still frame captured by a camera but a frame grab from amateur video footage.


Russia Today/YouTube

"We are at the point where consumers of information are not vetting the fact that it is a video or a still," Irby said. He adds that in today's fast-paced media cycle, "the masses would rather have the image and then later vet the credibility."

The veracity of this video's content cannot be denied, however, and Irby notes that the frequency of media outlets' proliferating images and video created not by professional journalists but by "authentic witnesses" is higher than at any point in history.

"This image now has the potential to impact national policy, and that has been one of the major attributes of photojournalism — images that move the hearts and minds of the public and policymakers," he said.

Tags: Egyptian protests, Egypt

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Philip Toczylowski, of Philadelphia, sits by his son’s grave with a trumpet at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., Friday, Dec. 16, 2011, a day after the Pentagon declared an end to the war in Iraq. Toczylowski says that he plays taps every time he visits the grave of his son, Army Major Jeffrey Philip [...]

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We’re in the business of making icons. From immortal covers to probing profiles to our annual Person of the Year, TIME has always shaped the first draft of history with the personalities and moments that mattered most. We get iconic. But 2011 has been a year of iconoclasm: powerful orthodoxies were challenged, notorious villains slain and dictators came crashing down. Along the way, people took photographs.

Our top 10 photos of 2011 capture a year as tumultuous and transformative as any in recent memory. The photos’ captions are in the words of the photographers who shot them. We take you from a tiny Washington control room, crammed with the great eminences of the capital, to the courageous multitudes massed in Tahrir Square. We behold the wrath of nature and the horrors that men inflict on one another. A scene of staggering human depravation in Somalia is joined by an uncanny glimpse of human genius: a NASA shuttle blazes into space, tethered to earth only by a thin line of smoke.

2011 will be remembered as a year of defiance and few acts of resistance will be as memorable to Americans as that ugly incident in California when a police officer fired pepper spray straight into the faces of the college students who refused his orders. Their rebellion — and viral send-ups of the pepper-spraying cop — will live on into the next year. But what of the young American soldier staring at the lens in Afghanistan? In his bewildered gaze is all the terror of war. It’s a look that must have lasted only a fleeting second, yet, haunted with a piercing sadness, stretches across centuries of human experience. It’s iconic. —Ishaan Tharoor

MORE: See the Top 10 of Everything in 2011

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Moises Saman had been photographing the run-up to the Egyptian elections when the recent riots broke out. He spoke to Lens about the challenges of digging deeper into the story.

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